Bells back in postseason by beating S&S

By Rick Bailey
For the Herald Democrat
Bells' Lane Kendrick got the scoring started for the Panthers with this TD run against S&S in District 8-3A (II) play.

BELLS — The Panthers delivered another knockout punch to a team vying to remove them from second place in the District 8-3A (II) standings and Bells has one more to deal with before locking in the second seed after a 49-3 victory against the S&S Rams.

Bells (7-2, 4-1) gained all its yardage on the ground as it clinched a playoff spot for the seventh straight season, extending its school record. The grinding Panthers running attack totaled 56 carries for 323 yards and Bells punted only once — on their last series of the game.

Bo Baker had 11 carries for 102 yards and a TD and also returned a kickoff for a score, Lane Kendrick added 12 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown, Blake Rolen totaled 59 yards and a TD on nine rushes and Brock Baker finished with 10 carries for 49 yards and a score for Bells, which will close out its regular season at Whitewright on Friday because the Panthers end the schedule with the district bye. A win would clinch the second seed and still give them an outside chance to share the district title with Gunter.

S&S (4-3, 2-2) was trying to solidify its postseason positioning but the Rams are now in a three-way tie with Whitewright and Leonard for third place. S&S travels to Leonard on Friday and a win would clinch a berth for the Rams because Leonard and Whitewright square off the final week of the season.

Jake Reynolds had 21 carries for 37 yards and Cooper Herron had a 40-yard catch for S&S.

While the Panthers were racing out to an early lead, the defense forced S&S to punt five times and didn’t give up a first down until 2:19 left in the first half when the Rams put together their only sustained drive of the night that ended up in a 40-yard field goal Kevin Sanchez field goal with 0:46 left in the half making the score 28-3.

The front seven of the Panther defense kept the Rams bottled up. Drake Stephens, Hank Weaver, Cooper Smith, Canyon Payne, Jaden Nelson, Cole Moore, Colten Yates and Aidan Brown applied the pressure on Reynolds and S&S finished with 95 total yards.

After S&S managed to get on the scoreboard at the end of the half, Bo Baker returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown for a 35-3 advantage.

Bells took very little time getting going as it scored on the first two possessions. On a 12-play drive to open the game, Kendrick had on a nine-yard touchdown run.

On the ensuing kickoff the Panthers got a fumble recovery by Aidan Brown at the 11-yard line. Four plays later quarterback Rolen scored from the two and Bells held a 14-0 advantage.

Brock Baker got on the board for the Panthers with a five-yard plunge at the 1:52 mark of the opening quarter making the score 21-0. After another three-and-out for the Rams at the end of the first quarter, the Panthers pounded the ball for an 18-play drive that took more than half of the second quarter and ended in a Bo Baker two-yard run to give Bells a 28-0 lead.

The Panthers forced a pair of three-and-outs during S&S' first two possessions of the second half and followed with a pair of touchdowns.

Payne scored with 8:15 left in the third stanza and Spencer Hinds scored the last points at the 2:25 mark of the quarter.

S&S had the ball only twice in the final quarter and the Panthers only possession resulted in their only punt of the night with 5:53 left in the game.

District 8-3A (II)

Bells        49

S&S          3